Susan Villanueva – Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf

Trailblazer – Susan Villanueva

Artist and Educator

Photo by: Donell Gumiran

As an award-winning educator who has trained hundreds of Emirati women at the Higher Colleges of Technology – Sharjah Women’s College, equipping them not only with design skills for their future careers but also garnering honor for the university and student body, Susan Villanueva has also invested much of her energy, creativity and teaching skills to inspire Filipinos in the UAE through the years.

Apart from holding exhibitions and sharing her works of art, Susan is also part of the POWER technical training center (Pinoy Overseas Worker’s Education and Reintegration) as a volunteer and mentor. During weekends, she spends time educating those who are passionate about learning and conducts creative art therapy, painting, and drawing sessions.

“As an educator for the past 26 years, I am proud to share my knowledge in art and design to the Filipino community,” she says. “It is my hope for the community to elevate their skills in the creative field. I am so thankful that I was given a home (POWER) to hone the hidden artistic talents of Filipinos and other nationalities.  I am getting to know more about our kababayans through art.  I do not want to be remembered as a person; I want the people to remember my work.”

She hopes that many Filipinos can also give back to the community and pay it forward. This, for her, is what makes life worth living.

Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf is Supported by: Kaya Skin Clinic,  Emirates Airline, and Unilever.

Special Thanks to Michael CincoEzra Couture , GiordanoDarcey FlowersIKON SolutionsVictors FreightMPQ Tourism, Asia Gulf Companies –La Carne & Filfood, WOL Water

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Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos Legacy Edition 2020

Susan Villanueva Puno


Susan Villanueva Puno - Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf 2018

Educator and artist, Susan Villanueva Puno has struck a fine line, embracing both artistic expression while fulfilling her duties as an educator to young Emirati women. Unsurprisingly with her initiatives yet again this year, she has not only brought recognition to the Higher Colleges of Technology – Sharjah Women’s College (HCT-SJW), she has also contributed to the Filipino community through her art.

Through her guidance and unwavering patience, Susan’s students have become game changers in the advertising field, with their campaigns featured across the UAE, as well as in prestigious events such as the Asia World Summit at the Dubai Trade Center and Sharjah’s Space Science Center. An innovator in her own right, she has transformed class as educational, engaging and exciting for her students through teaching experience instead of theory. “I love teaching beyond the books; I teach experience because, in this way, it’s more rewarding,” she says.   Shaping her students’ creativity and resourcefulness has yielded prominence for HCT-SJW specifically at respected sector competitions like Emirates Skill, WorldSkills Asia, and EuroSkills.  This 2018, she also received the Lifetime Service Award from her beloved college, while her art was showcased at the “Shukran Baba Zayed” exhibition as well as at the Pamaskong Handog event organized by the Philippines Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Susan’s belief in always trying to see the beauty in everything is her formula in work and in life that allows her to be a conduit for good. She imparts, “Always focus on positivity, tolerance with compassion, innovative/critical thinking and most of all respect for others.  Respect travels a long way.  It is important always to learn and share knowledge with others.  At work, stay focused and love what you do.”





Special thanks to our sponsors: Emirates Airline, Stars n Bars La Mer, Liali, Instax – Grandstores UAE, Dusit Thani Dubai, Gver – Your Friendly Marketplace for Sharing, Meeting Dancewear , MPQ, CMG, Filbrit, and our partners Rozen Antonio Photography,  Alex Callueng Photography, Jef Anog Photography, and Ethereal Photography.


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100 MIFG: Susan Villanueva - Artist/Educator
Photo by: Alex Callueng


100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Susan Villanueva – Artist/Educator


Although she considers her work abstract with a lot of stories to tell, and contemporary that does not explain itself visually, Susan Villanueva finds pride and joy in bringing a new form of work to the Philippines and the world. “It brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas about Philippine heritage,” she says. “Art has moved to a wider spectrum of how to deliver a message. From visual content, art has now become a vehicle for communication.”


Her most recent project Pintados which was recently exhibited at the Philippine Consulate General of Dubai prove that her works are indeed a testament to her creativity, leading her to more exposure and for other Filipinos to witness her stunning creations.


“Artists by nature are different from others,” she says.  “Unknowingly, yes, it is important to be different. It pushes boundaries and provides innovative thinking. However, being different is innate for an artist. I guess being unique is something you can acquire depending on the exposure of one’s self. Each of us was born unique from each other.”


In the near future, the artist, who is also known for being a notable educator of Emirati youth and respected faculty member at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Sharjah Women’s College,  plans to bring the unknown part of the country’s heritage to the young generation. “This, perhaps, needs years of research as this is part of my project proposal for my Ph.D. studies. I want to see it through and be able to share it with the Filipino people and the world. I want to share this with countries with similar tribes, and relate the colors, similarities and their meaning.”



Photography by: Alex Callueng

Illustrado 100 was made possible by sponsors: GiordanoLiali JewelleryMitsubishi UAE- Al Habtoor MotorsMichael Cinco CoutureMapúa Institute of TechnologyCentro – Amwaj Rotana Hotel , Max’s Restaurant Middle East and GVER – Your Friendly MarketPlace for Sharing

Co-Sponsors: Herschel Supply Co.Rove HotelsThe Medical City – Dubai , Filipino Institute UAEMPQ TourismJAMES Travel and Tours DubaiOff the Hook Seafood RestaurantThe Original Barrio Fiesta Restaurant – Dubai and Tapa King UAE.


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